So, let's get down to it. President Bush's new speech on Cuba policy was met with predictable reactions. After the speech, Radio Mambi was in a celebratory mood as Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart and Sen. Mel Martinez called in to Ninoska Perez-Castellon's 3pm show. BOTH described the speech as "historic." Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, of course, went ahead and compared the speech to Reagan's famous call for "freedom" on June 12th, 1987 in West Berlin. Henry Gomez at the Babalu Blog also couldn't help but make the same Reagan comparison. (Gomez also inaccurately wrote that the speech lasted about 40 minutes, when his own video link times the speech at about 30 minutes.)
Ironically, I think the Reagan comparison is apt. Looking back at George W. Bush's policy towards Cuba, not since Reagan's administration (1981-1989) has such confrontational rhetoric been spoken. (Still, in my opinion, Clinton's administration was far more aggressive and destructive in actual policy.) Recall Reagan's State Sec. Alexander Haig describing Cuba as "the source" of the communist threat in Central America.
Back in 1980, a report titled "A New Inter-American Policy of the Eighties" by the Committee of Santa Fe (Council for Inter-American Security) laid out the basic plan for Reagan's Cuba policy. With the fear of a communist threat coming from Cuba, the Committee of Santa Fe put it bluntly:
"If propaganda fails, a war of national liberation against Castro must be launched. The second alternative will be to encourage the Cubans to make a radical shift in their foreign policy... [W]e should make it clear that if the Cuban-Soviet alliance is ended, the United States will be generous.... Thus Havana must be presented with two clear options. It is free to choose either, but the United States must carry out the threat or the promise with equal vigor."
Currently, Bush's Cuba policy is a slight modification, emphasizing more the "generous" part (the so-called Freedom Fund for Cuba), without the obvious threat of "national liberation" connected to the old Soviet threat. But, note that according to the hard-line, (even without a Soviet threat, as if it mattered) Cuba still poses a "threat to US national security." In essence, current US policy towards Cuba is nothing but a Reagan rerun. This would also explain how hard-liners currently praise George W. Bush, and see him as a worthy successor to the Reagan legacy. But, even more astonishing, this morning I also heard Armando Perez Roura actually compare Bush's speech yesterday to Lincoln's Gettysburg Address! Yikes!
Anyway, let's analyze Bush's Gettysburg.